The way I see it life is one long self-improvement project. We continually learn and develop from the day we’re born until we die (or as I like to think of it; when we run out of credits), and that’s a Good Thing. It means that we are the only ones responsible for how we live our lives, and even if we end up the victim of circumstances that we couldn’t possibly control, the way we react and adapt is totally up to us. It’s pretty sweet really.
However, some things are inescapable truths, so it’s best to be aware of them so that you can be prepared to deal with them. In the previous installment of “What the Diet Books DON’T Tell You…” I talked about some of the effects I’d noticed from embarking upon an adventure in Eat Less Crap, Move Around A Bit More. Today I’d like to add some extra little bits and pieces, including a couple of observations I can’t really voice anywhere else.
WARNING: The following text may include rambling, harsh judgements and sweeping generalisations.
1. Exercise and nutrition-tracking apps are very useful, but they’re also evil.
One of the most nifty things about modern technology is that if there’s a task to be done, there’s an app for it. We use apps to wake up in the morning, to tell us what the weather might do later in the day, and to bounce a little dude with no arms up a height for some reason. For the past five weeks I’ve been using Nike+ with my iPod and a little sensor thingie that sits in a special pouch on top of my shoe. It’s a really useful little tool; it tracks your steps, plays music at you, and gives you vocal feedback on how you’re doing. There’s just one problem… it’s evil.
I’m not saying it’s sentient or anything like that (although it’s only a matter of time…) but I keep finding myself pushing myself harder, speeding up and going for longer just so I won’t disappoint the lady who tells me how far I’ve run, how long it’s taken me and what my current pace is. It’s ridiculous. It’s like having a lobotomised personal trainer who has retained the key phrases from their job but might not even know you’re there. I guess I could choose the male voice, but I think having a stern lady telling me what to do gives me enough annoyance to try harder. Note: this is not advised if you’re driving with a satnav. When I was driving in the States I wanted to strangle our GPS unit. The judgemental cow. Yeah, I’ll do a U-turn. I’ll U-turn you right in your smug mouth.
Still, it bloody works. When you break a personal record and get an achievement (achievements! Those cunning sods!) you feel brilliant. Even if you flag a little some days you can usually figure out why and make a mental note to try and fix things for next time. Then you’ll show her.
2. Gaining entry to an exclusive club that you never wanted to be part of in the first place.
Ah, women. We do love to belong. Most of us, anyway… I’d rather read a book in a quiet corner, but hey. When word gets out that you’re making some lifestyle changes and it’s working, you’re suddenly expected to join in with the fellow diet-fans. “Oh great! I can swap tips and recipes with people who also care about feeling good!” Sorry, that’s not how it works. See, the reason these people are such experts on practically every diet in existence and can tell you within half a second how many calories are in a fun-sized Mars Bar is because this is their life. They don’t aspire to make long-lasting changes, they aspire to be on a diet. Forever.
It’s quite disappointing, but if you stay vigilant you can spot the warning signs:
- Referring to food as either “good” or “bad” with nothing in-between. Example sentences include “Oh I’m being good today” or “I was dead bad at the weekend.” Perma-dieters see the world in black and white. “Moderation” is an alien concept.
- Shrieking loudly in despair whenever anyone mentions biscuits.
- Terrible food choices or a lack of basic nutrition. Four Ryvita crackers is not a healthy meal.
I’d like to end on a positive note here. The best part of keeping an eye on what you eat, taking time to prepare good food and taking note of what your body needs is that when you fancy a little treaty something (whatever your treaty somethings are; mine are chocolate, pizza, craft beer and cake) it tastes so fantastic, so earth-shatteringly awesome that you can almost feel the dopamine flowing through your system. If you have treats all of the time, they’re not treats any more. You become apathetic towards little pleasures, and end up trying to find it in more and more places. People go shopping, they spend money they don’t really have on trinkets and widgets that they don’t really need, or they do something utterly deranged, hopeless and world-ending such as get into the Fifty Shades of Grey series. Anything to try and recreate that high and feel special.
The thing is, if you feel special all of the time, nothing is ever special ever again. Plus you’ll end up becoming one of those mad people who think it’s ok to talk about poorly-written BDSM fanfic in public. Not good. Keep it simple and you’ll find pleasure in even the smallest things.